LIVE: Joel Harrison’s Stardust Reunion Band / Nels Cline @ The Colony, 04/02/2022
Nels Cline is probably best known as the guitarist for the alt-rock band Wilco. His work outside of Wilco crosses many genres including free jazz and punk. This evening’s solo performance was largely free jazz. Some of the pieces could easily have been mistaken for acoustic guitar work with intricate fingering and harmonies, except for the use of multiple panels of electronic boxes. Others were quite industrial in nature, using feedback and a drumstick to manipulate the strings to produce unique sounds. He performed several compositions of others, including the renowned Ralph Towner. He dazzled the audience with his technique, some bobbing their heads and arms to the music produced.
Joel Harrison’s Stardust Reunion Band presented a marked contrast to Cline’s performance. The band consisted of two guitars, keyboards, and drums. The music also crossed genres but to these ears best resembled the creativity of early fusion, with a healthy dose of R&B, soul jazz, and rock.
The opening number “Move” had a clear Les McCann groove to it. “Poison” featured Joel Harrison on vocals and was a creation of the Covid shutdown, describing our current polarization. This was followed by a surprise cover of the Pink Floyd classic “Us and Them”, featuring a Cline guitar solo with feelings of hope, in contrast to the depressing lyrics on the state of the world. Harrison normally does not sing, so the vocals were a stretch, but adequate.
Renowned blues keyboardist Bruce Katz provided expressive solos alongside Harrison, while also handling the bass parts on his keyboards. David Gilmore provided a great foil to Harrison, playing rhythm guitar and at times trading leads with him. Aaron Johnston is an extraordinary drummer, laying down the beat as needed and adding flourishes where appropriate.
It was a nice evening for the ride to Woodstock. As a side note, if you arrive a little early before the show, be sure to consider having dinner at the Colony. Its cuisine is one of the best secrets of Woodstock, which can be an expensive place to dine.
Setlist (Joel Harrison’s Stardust Reunion Band)
- Ghost Rider
- Us and Them (with Nels Cline)
- Don’t Lead
- Joel Harrison – guitar
- David Gilmore – guitar
- Aaron Johnston – drums
- Bruce Katz – keyboards